England, Wales and Scotland section of International Socialist Alternative

Covid-19: what we fight for

Under huge pressure, Boris Johnson’s Tory government has been forced to spend billions on schemes to try to mitigate the social and economic catastrophe flowing from the Coronavirus crisis. But they and the capitalist system they represent have no real solutions – we need a socialist alternative. Socialist Alternative calls for mass trade union-led struggle for the following:

1. Equip key workers for this fight!

  • Widespread testing now! Emergency mass testing of all key workers and their families. Urgently roll out community testing
  • Sufficient stocks of appropriate PPE for all who need it
  • Democratic committees of health workers and scientists to determine how many ventilators will be needed in each setting, these to be available without delay
  • A state-funded, national plan – decided democratically by workers and trade unions – to rapidly repurpose all possible research, production and distribution to enable quick provision of testing, PPE, ventilators and other medical equipment to meet need
  • Proper protection of all workers’ health – including mental health, – safety and working conditions
  • No professional liability for healthcare workers stretched to breaking point in the Covid effort
  • Escalated rates of pay for overtime for all key workers
  • A coordinated, international strategy, to fight the virus and develop a vaccine to be free and accessible to everyone – don’t leave it to the corporations and big pharma!

2. No faith in the Tory government to decide what measures are necessary or for how long

  • No attacks on democratic and trade union rights in the name of fighting the virus
  • For democratic trade union and community committees to decide on recommendations for social distancing etc
  • Elected workplace committees to decide whether the work being carried out is essential – trade union action to close those where this is not the case

3. Work or full pay for all

  • Furlough pay to be increased to 100%, including for precarious and zero-hour contract workers
  • Free childcare for all children of key workers
  • No compulsion for workers to endanger their health – key workers should be asked to continue going to work on a voluntary basis only
  • No sickness absence monitoring to be undertaken during this crisis
  • Stop the redundancies! Open the books on firms pleading poverty. Nationalisation of big companies threatening layoffs and government grants for small businesses under threat to compensate for lost income

4. Save the NHS – now and for the future

  • Not a penny to the private health bosses turning over beds and staff to the effort against the virus
  • All privatised cleaning and ancillary services to be brought back into the public sector
  • Local councils to conduct emergency audits of social care capacity. Rapid expansion of residential and home help services to relieve pressure on acute hospitals. Central government to foot the bill
  • An end to all cuts, closures and privatisations in the NHS. Cancel all PFI debt! Huge investment to fund all necessary services, and to build in preparation for future shocks such as epidemics
  • Nationalise the pharmaceutical companies under democratic workers’ control and management

5. Don’t let workers pay the price for a crisis of capitalism’s making

  • End bulk buying – retail unions to set a cap on sales per customer of items under shortage. Improve and extend the special arrangements for elderly and vulnerable people, and key workers, to be able to get their shopping without endangering their health
  • Democratic workers’ control of supplies and prices of food and pharmaceuticals to prevent shortages
  • Write off rent and mortgage arrears caused by inability to work, no intimidation or evictions for arrears. Suspend utility bills for any affected worker.
  • An urgent expansion of shelters and safe homes for those experiencing domestic violence
  • Trade union oversight of expectations of workers able to work from home, including taking into account childcare obligations
  • Refund all fees for cancelled university lectures. Abolish student debt and invest in free education
  • A mass trade-union led movement against any future austerity drive to pay for the government debt accrued to fund current emergency measures
  • A democratic, socialist world where the means of production are collectively owned and planned to meet the needs of all, rather than the profits of the tiny few

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